We referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. (#1.)
The Pope here was telling us to review our vision and mission as a Christian. This means that we are to make the Kingdom of God our vision and following Christ our mission.
We are then to follow Christ as our King, and thus it is of utmost importance that we hold him as the king in our heart- the one who is our way, our truth and our life. This calls a commitment on our part. But we need to renew our commitment to Christ everyday, in fact it is more so at this time. And one way to renew our commitment to Christ and his kingdom is to re-discover the real meaning of commitment. The retired Cardinal Ricardo Vidal in Cebu (Philippines) said to the young people in his keynote address for the Youth Ministers’ Convention that one of the main differences between our time now and the Age of enlightenment is that in those time people were ‘either committed to one thing or another, while this time [our time], it is commitment itself that has lost its meaning.’ (Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal: You’re Still Young, I’m Old…a Conversation with the youth of Cebu.) So we have the trend to just go with the flow, drifting away, and the like.
So our feast of Christ the King is a time for us to re-discover the real meaning of our commitment to Christ. We need to start this by asking the two fundamental questions: What sort of King Christ is and What kind of Kingdom he is proclaiming?
First, what sort of a King Christ is? In our gospel today he declared to Pilate that He is a King but a king who is born to bear witness to the truth. He is one who frees us from falsehood, from our pretences. He is a king who helps us not to give into hollow values and empty glories. He is a king whose only weapon is the truth which no amount of arm power can destroy.
As a king, he came to serve and not to be served. And he goes even further. As our King, he comes not only to visit us. He became like one of us. He lives with us. He laid down his life for us his subjects and his friends.
Second, what sort of Kingdom Christ is proclaiming?
It is a kind of Kingdom described in our preface today. It is an eternal and universal kingdom. This is a stark contrast to the kingdom that Pilate possessed that had to face a definite end and destruction. It is also a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.
In the Biblical idea, according to one Scripture commentator the kingdom of justice is understood not only as giving to someone what is due but as a right relations to one’s self, to one’s neighbour (both individual and community) and to God. The Kingdom of Peace means reconciliation with self, neighbour, and God. It is also a kingdom of joy, a fullness of life and abundance of love.
We might go on with our questioning: If those are the qualities of the Kingdom of Christ, why is there a mess-up in our world? Why all these terrible things happening in our society? Why all these abuse of power, authority and influence?
The answer is complex but one thing is more likely a huge contributing factor: We, the subjects, the members, and the residents of the kingdom are not faithful to embody the qualities of the kingdom. We tend to enjoy the lie and stay away from the truth of who we are. Even Pilate was caught up with this. He asked Jesus: ‘What is the truth?’ He heard the truth speaking to him, yet he still crucified him. In fact, he took no personal responsibility of it. ‘Am I a Jew?’ was his excuse. It is they who brought you here, was his justification.
To know the truth is also our quest even today. Thus, we need to pray everyday that God would guide us to the truth. The late Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Veritatis splendour (The Splendor of truth) sees that Pilate’s quest for the truth of Jesus as a reflection of the ‘distressing perplexity of a man [and woman] who often no longer knows who he is, whence he comes and where he is going.’ (VS 84). The Pope also noted some sad consequences of this distress or crisis such as self-destruction, ‘contempt for life after conception and before birth (abortion, or termination of pregnancies, etc), the ongoing violation of basic rights of the person, and the unjust destruction of goods necessary for human life.’
So as we continue our celebration for Christ our King, let us rejoice that we have Christ our King and the king of the universe, who is both our sure leader, our faithful guide and our certain source of hope for everlasting happiness in his kingdom. Meanwhile, let us also endeavor to embody the qualities of the kingdom Christ has shown us in his very life: truth and life; holiness and grace; justice, love and peace.Amen.